H.M.S. Bounty, Los Angeles, California

Le Continental is a big fan of nautical themed restaurants and bars. Not the contemporary type of brightly lit rooms with furnishings in light oak, blue, and white, but the rich, old nautical style of dark varnished woods, brass fixtures, and lots of flotsam. The HMS Bounty is fairly well known as a dive bar, but I think of it also as a restaurant. It has been one of my favorite places to dine at in Los Angeles for many years.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The HMS Bounty was opened in 1962 by restauranteur Gordon Fields in the Gaylord Hotel, which opened in 1924 on rapidly growing Wilshire Boulevard. The hotel was named after land developer Henry Gaylord Wilshire, who everyone called ‘Gaylord’. The 1920s were certainly roaring along this stretch of Wilshire, with the opulent Ambassador Hotel and Coconut Grove nightclub opening in 1921 (across from where the Gaylord stands,  demolished in 2006), the first Brown Derby restaurant opening down the street in 1926 (demolished in 1980), and the spectacular art deco Bullocks Wilshire department store open for business a bit farther east in 1929 (still standing). The Gaylord was a luxury apartment building which was the first co-op (like condos, the tenant owned each apartment) apartment building in the west, however the co-op model was a failure in Los Angeles at the time so eventually most of the units were rented out.

 

image by Gaylord Apartments' facebook page

image by Gaylord Apartments’ facebook page

 

Before the space in the hotel became the HMS Bounty it was the Fountain Room, a lounge and ballroom (1924-1948), The Gay Room cocktail lounge (1948-1951), Dimsdale’s Secret Harbor (1951-?), and the Golden Anchor. When Gordon ‘Gordie’ Fields opened the HMS Bounty he already had success with his olde English Bull ‘n’ Bush steakhouse a block away on 6th and Kenmore streets, which he opened in 1956. He was a big sports fan, so he filled his first restaurant with sports memorabilia, which, along with the great steaks, attracted a clientele of sports personalities and celebrities (such as Jack Webb). The Bull ‘n’ Bush expanded down Kenmore Street and Fields (along with some partners) opened the HMS Bounty to accommodate even more diners.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

In a short time the Bounty became a power lunch spot and a popular cocktail lounge at night, where people had martinis before having dinner at the Brown Derby, the Windsor (now the Prince), or The Cove. The story goes that there was even a secret passage from the Coconut Grove across the street to the HMS Bounty. Some of the celebrities who frequented the HMS Bounty are Winston Churchill, William Randolph Hearst, Walter Winchell, Wilbur Clark, and Jack Webb (his booth was the last booth on the right after entering the bar, the one with the Bull ‘n’ Bush sign mounted above it). Gordon Fields passed away in 1998 and Ramon Castaneda, an employee at HMS Bounty since it opened, took over the restaurant.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The bar at HMS Bounty is a great place to get a highball. It has the original red naugahyde booths and chairs, a model of the HMS Bounty behind the bar, and a jukebox stocked with 45s of pop standards and big band that only costs a quarter (they also have a CD jukebox on the wall). But I like to eat in the quiet dining room in back that has no TVs (it seems that every time I return to the bar there is another TV added, though at least they are small TVs). The same dark red vinyl booths, white linen tablecloths, simple nautical decor, and very dark (with no TVs).

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

(guess what time of year I took that pic?)

 

The menu is very reasonably priced (all entrees under $20; sandwiches under $10) and includes steaks (8 types), chops, and seafood. The food is classic and good.

Make sure you use the bathroom during your visit, which is in the basement of the Gaylord Hotel, so you can see the 1920s opulence of the lobby and display case of hotel memorabilia.

 

H.M.S. Bounty
3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 385-7275
Open Mon-Thu 11:00am-1:00am, Fri-Sat 11:00am-2:00am, Sun 12:00pm-1:00am

 

Cafe La Maze, National City, California

Marcel Lamaze was a famous chef and maître d’hôtel in Hollywood during the heyday of the 1930s through the 1950s. He opened his Cafe La Maze on the Sunset Strip in 1938. It was a popular celebrity hangout, with regulars including James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, and Pat O’Brien.

 

Cafe Lamaze, Hollywood

Cafe La Maze, Hollywood

 

Marcel Lamaze was also maître d’hôtel at the Earl Carroll Theater and at Ciro’s (formerly Lamaze’s Club Seville). He was chef at The Kings restaurant from 1951 to 1954, then maître d’hôtel at the Moulin Rouge, which replaced the Earl Carroll Theater, until his death in 1960. In the 1940s his Cafe La Maze in Hollywood became Sherry’s, later the Plymouth House, Gazarri’s, Billboard Live, and finally the Key Club, which closed recently (no relation to the Key Club bar at Cafe La Maze in National City – see photo below).

 

Cafe La Maze, National City, 1949 - photo by Cafe La Maze

Cafe La Maze, National City, 1949 – photo by Cafe La Maze

 

According to the web site for Cafe La Maze in National City, Marcel Lamaze opened the restaurant in 1940 to serve Hollywood celebrities who traveled across the border to gamble in Tijuana. However, there is no evidence of Marcel Lamaze’s connection to the restaurant in National City and city newspapers show that the restaurant was opened in 1940 by Jimmy Thompson. Nevertheless, reportedly it was a popular gambling stop with a secret gambling den on the second floor (in 1947, Thompson was arrested in a midnight raid on the establishment to enforce ant-gambling laws) and had a reputation for excellent food so it became a special destination for a fancy night out.

 

front

Cafe La Maze, National City, today

 

In the 1960s it was briefly renamed Plantation Restaurant and remodeled, probably close to its present look, but in 1967 it was named Cafe La Maze again. In 1969, Freddie Evarkiou bought the restaurant and owned it until 2004. In 2008, Evarkiou stated that Marcel Lamaze had no direct connection to the National City location, though he admitted  the restaurant obtained recipes from Marcel Lamaze, who was a well-know chef (and maître d’hôtel). So, Le Continental believes the restaurant was named Cafe La Maze as a tribute to the Hollywood location, with possible involvement by Marcel Lamaze.

 

interior - photo by Cafe La Maze

interior – photo by Cafe La Maze

 

In 2008 Adam Cook and Cuong Nguyen bought the restaurant. Their designer Michele Gonzalez has done a wonderful job redecorating the restaurant into a classic steakhouse with acknowledgements to the history of Marcel Lamaze as a Hollywood host. There are tufted red booths, red and gold flocked wallpaper, mid-century chandeliers, and photos of Hollywood celebrities from Marcel Lamaze’s era. The menu specializes in Prime Rib and steaks, which are hand cut, as well as seafood. The restaurant makes its own blue cheese dressing and soups from scratch. Despite the foggy history of the place, it is a fact that it is a historic restaurant in San Diego and we are grateful that it has survived for 75 years, and we hope it keeps going for a long, long time (maybe to 100 years old!).

 

Cafe La Maze
1441 Highland Ave, National City, CA 91950
(619) 474-3222
Open Sun-Thu 11:00am – 9:00pm (bar at 11:30pm), Fri-Sat 11:00am – 10:00pm (bar at 12:30pm)

 

Casa Duque, Segovia, Spain

A while back Le Continental visited Mesón de Cándido in the beautiful city of Segovia, Spain. While it is a classic that dates back to 1931, Casa Duque is the oldest restaurant in the city offering cochinillo asado, roasted suckling pig, which the city of Segovia is famous for. Le Continental has discovered that Casa Duque and Mesón de Cándido are linked somehow, though it isn’t mentioned on the restaurants’ web sites.

 

image by Wikimedia Commons

image by Wikimedia Commons

 

Casa Duque was opened in 1895 by Feliciana Mate and Dionisio Duque and is still owned by the Duque family. Today Marisa Duque, great-granddaughter of the original founders, runs the restaurant with her family. In looking at historic photos of Casa Duque on their web site, one photo of the restaurant, then located on Plaza de Azoquejo next to the Roman aqueduct, looked familiar to me (the following photo).

 

historic photo by Casa Duque's web site

historic photo by Casa Duque’s web site

 

As you can see the building on the right has a sign stating “Duque de Gran Casa de Comidas”. The same building in fact now houses Mesón de Cándido! On that restaurant’s web site there is a similar historic photo of the same building which has signage that states “Mesón Casa Cándido” (I couldn’t download the photo but you can see it here in the center of second row). In examining the two photos, especially the cars, it seems to me that the photo above dates from the 1920s, while the photo of Mesón de Cándido dates from the 1930s or 1940s, which makes sense since Mesón de Cándido didn’t open until 1931. So, some time after 1895 Casa Duque must have moved from the plaza to its current location. (Little of this information is mentioned on the restaurants’ web sites.)

 

doorway from bar into Sepulveda dining room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

doorway from bar into Sepulveda dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

After entering Casa Duque one passes the bar and enters the Sepulveda dining room, which is the original dining room in the restaurant, through a beautiful carved wood doorway. I was seated in this dining room for my dinner. It was almost empty at the time (around 9:00 pm) as most locals eat their large daily meal in the early afternoon.

 

Sepulveda dining room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Sepulveda dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

The walls at Casa Duque are covered with awards, medals, historic photos, and bric-à-brac and the wood ceilings are magnificent. There are several dining rooms in this large restaurant. I took a couple more photos before my phone’s battery died (so I didn’t get any photos of my food. Note to self: bring a backup digital camera next time.). You can see more photos of the gorgeous dining rooms here.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Sepulveda dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

San Millán dining room, a portion of the parish house of San Millán acquired and installed in 1995, the centenary of Casa Duque – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

Casa Duque’s specialties are Segovian roasted meats, such as cochinillo asado and lechal asado (roasted lamb), both cooked in the wood fired oven. Another specialty is Judiones de La Granja Gran Duque, giant white beans grown on the family farm in La Granja stewed with partridge.

 

first course - photo by es.paperblog.com

first course – photo by es.paperblog.com

I went for the menú gastronómico, which was three courses: the first course was a sampler of chorizo (sausage), morcilla (blood sausage), judiones (huge white beans), sopita castellana (Castilian soup), and a pork loin picadillo (a hash of chopped meat), followed by a large portion of cochinillo, and for dessert a piece of the Segovian specialty ponche Segoviano (layer cake).

 

I couldn’t possibly finish the first course because I had to save room for the suckling pig, which is roasted very simply so it had a pure pork flavor with juicy meat that melted in my mouth and a salty, crispy skin. Delicious.

 

Explore the inside of the restaurant:

 

Casa Duque
Calle de Cervantes, 12, 40001 Segovia, Spain
Phone: +34 921 46 24 87
Open daily 12:00pm – 5:30pm, 8:30pm – 11:30pm

 

 

Little Red Barn, San Antonio, Texas

A couple of years ago we visited the outstanding Barn Door Steakhouse in San Antonio. Today we’ll step into the Little Red Barn, which is a casual, western-style steakhouse with good food at reasonable prices.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The Little Red Barn was opened in 1963 in an old meat market by Ralph and Lili Hernandez. It was casual, with picnic tables for seating and the menus and cattle brands painted on the walls (as it still is today). Ralph was butcher and cook and Lili was the waitress and cashier. The place grew from a small restaurant with 8 picnic tables over the years into a large restaurant that can seat 800 customers, making it the largest steakhouse in Texas! And to boot, it’s still owned by the Hernandez family.

 

photo by littleredbarnsteakhouse.com

photo by littleredbarnsteakhouse.com

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

At the door you are greeted by a hostess in a western plaid shirt, jeans, and cowboy hat, who takes you to your table, where a chilled salad has mysteriously already been placed for your eating enjoyment. A choice of dressings (all made from scratch, daily, and available to take home) is offered. I opted for the Green Goddess.

 

 

The servers are dressed in cowgirl outfits that vary a bit, all in black and white, some in black with white fringe. All wear a cowboy hat and a neckerchief. This is the only restaurant left that still does this, that I know of. The Steak Corral in Whittier still did when I visited about 15 years ago but it looks like the servers are just wearing jeans and blue shirts these days.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

delicious rolls - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

delicious rolls – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

The server brings you a menu board with a large variety of steaks and seafood. All dinners come with salad, a house made roll, and choice of potato or green beans. The steaks are cut daily by in-house butchers, the beef is ground daily, and the sides, dressings, and desserts are made from scratch.

 

 

T-bone steak

T-bone steak

 

I ordered the T-Bone Steak with a baked potato. The steaks come on distinctive metal platters.

 

 

 

 

Be sure and look around the restaurant at the humorous artworks painted on the walls. One of the dining rooms was closed while we were there but they kindly turned on the lights so we could see the walls, covered with wonderful cartoons like this:

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

If you had to choose between the many steakhouses in San Antonio, you have two types: the fine dining steakhouses like Bohanans (review coming soon) and Little Rhein and the casual steakhouses like Barn Door and Little Red Barn. Between these casual steakhouses you could choose by proximity: Barn Door is near the airport, and Little Red Barn is close to downtown. Either one is a good choice, but if you want something fun and quick, Little Red Barn is my pick (though the steaks are a cut above at the Barn Door).

 

Little Red Barn
1836 S Hackberry St, San Antonio, TX 78210
(210) 532-4235
Open Mon-Thu 11:00am – 8:30pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am – 9:30pm, Sun 12:00pm – 8:00pm

 

Offbeat L.A.: The Oldest Surviving Los Angeles Restaurants

Source: Offbeat L.A.: The Oldest Surviving Los Angeles Restaurants… A Master List of the Vintage, Historic and Old School | The LA Beat

Recently an incredible list of classic, vintage restaurants in Los Angeles and vicinity (up to an hours drive away), sorted by year opened at current location, was posted on The LA Beat blog.

Le Continental thanks Nikki Kreuzer and the folks at the LA Beat for all the research and work that went into this list!

The Jab has eaten at 81 of the restaurants on the list, but that leaves plenty more to do! Here are my top picks on the list that I have not visited yet (descriptions by the LA Beat):

Golden Spur, Glendora – 1918

photo by Zen905 on Tripadvisor.com

photo by Zen905 on Tripadvisor.com

 

Classic mid-century steakhouse on Route 66 that started as a horse ride-up burger stand. Amazing vintage sign of a cowboy boot with spur attached & great vintage interior.

Valley Inn, Sherman Oaks 1947

Old school steakhouse with round black leather booths and an attached vintage bar.

Steven’s Steakhouse, Commerce – 1952

Steakhouse with spectacular signs, leather booths, beveled glass & a vintage bar.

Ernie’s Mexican Restaurant, N. Hollywood – 1952

Classic mid-century Mexican with two dining areas & a bar; dimly lit with leather booths.

Little Toni’s, North Hollywood 1956

Opened in the mid-’50s in place of Cottage Italia and serving Italian-American food, this restaurant has an authentic old school vibe. Dark, with red leather booths, stained glass, wood & Italian inspired decor.

Corky’s Restaurant, Sherman Oaks – 1958

Authentic Googie diner with river rock exterior, vintage interior and cocktail lounge.

Tortilla Inn, Northridge – 1959

Old school, family-owned Mexican restaurant with a dimly-lit atmosphere, red leather booths and separate bar.

Arthur’s Restaurant, Downey – 1961

Authentic ’60s diner with wood paneled walls, olive green leather booths, wood laminate tables and original front sign.

La Cave, Costa Mesa 1962

Old-school steak and seafood. Dark and romantic, located downstairs in a cellar. John Wayne was a regular.

The San Franciscan, Torrance – 1963

Old school steakhouse. Vintage signage, red leather booths, classic early 1960s.

Taco Lita, Arcadia – 1967

Americanized fast-food Mexican served in a spectacularly original late ’60s building. Bright orange tiled floors, blue molded plastic seats and original signs.

The Backwoods Inn, Canyon Country – 1968

Rustic mid-century steakhouse with saw dust on the floor, wood, antiques & a bar built in 1978.

Brolly Hut, Inglewood 1968

Spectacular vintage building shaped like an umbrella, serving fast-food hamburger fair. Upside-down umbrellas serve as light fixtures, vintage mosaic tiles, amazing original sign.

La Villa Mexican Restaurant, Gardena – 1969

Mexican food in a bright brick & shingle building. Original neon sign; interior decoration leans toward late ’60s country cottage with a Southwest flavor.

La Poubelle, Los Angeles – 1969

Classic French bistro food in a space with a solid wooden bar, dim lights and European inspired decor.

Spaghetti Bender, Newport Beach – 1969

Italian restaurant with an old school country kitschy dining room that hasn’t been remodeled since 1976.

Antonio’s Restaurant, Los Angeles – 1970

Opened before Melrose became trendy, this Mexican restaurant is dark, with an old school feel, including wrought iron, Mexican tile and walls full of old photos.

Alfredo’s Granada, Burbank – 1971

Early ’70s decor with a tile-roofed Mexican hacienda disguising the kitchen.

Gardens of Taxco, West Hollywood – 1971

Mexican food. Prix fixe menu recited by a waiter. Dark interior with red leather booths.

El Compadre, Los Angeles – 1975

Classic Mexican food. Dark, with an old world hacienda feeling, leather booths and flaming margaritas.

Don Antonio’s, Los Angeles – 1982

Dark and cozy, red leather booths and a “cave room” complete with stalactites.

Paoli’s, Woodland Hills – 1984

East coast Italian feel. Small piano bar with a vintage feel and a separate bar area.

 

A lot of old school Mexican restaurants to try (one of my favorite kinds of restaurant)! And those are just a few of the ones I have not been to yet. There are also loads of quick meal type places I need to try (like hamburger and hot dog stands). For the curious, here is my list of visited restaurants on the list (if city not noted it’s in Los Angeles):

Philippe the Original 1908
Cole’s 1908
Watson Drugs, Orange 1915
Musso and Frank 1919
Pacific Dining Car 1921
Tam O’Shanter 1922
The Pantry 1924
Joe Jost, Long Beach 1924
Formosa Cafe 1925El Cholo 1927
Casa La Golondrina 1930
Clifton’s 1931
Canter’s 1931
El Coyote 1931
Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken, Buena Park 1934
The Galley, Santa Monica 1934
Tom Bergin’s 1936
Damon’s 1937
Du-par’s, Farmers Market 1938
The Derby, Arcadia 1938
Harbor House Cafe, Sunset Beach 1939
Pink’s Hot Dogs 1939
The Sycamore Inn, Rancho Cucamonga 1939
The Polo Lounge 1940
Hop Louie 1941
Snug Harbor, Santa Monica 1941
Bun ‘n Burger, Alhambra 1941
Nate ‘n Al, Beverly Hills 1945
Barone’s, Valley Glen 1945
The Smokehouse 1946 (current location 1949)
Billingsley’s 1946
Tommy’s 1946 – original location on Beverly
Chili John’s, Burbank 1946
Clearman’s Steak ‘n Stein, Pico Rivera 1946
Rod’s Grill, Arcadia 1946
Casa Escobar, various 1946
Gus’s Barbeque, Pasadena 1946
Langer’s Deli 1947
Apple Pan 1947
HMS Bounty 1948
Bob’s Big Boy Burbank 1949
Miceli’s 1949
Crab Cooker, Newport Beach 1951
The Hat 1951 – Alhambra location
Johnnies Pastrami 1952
Tony’s on the Pier, Redondo Beach 1952
The Bear Pit, Mission Hills 1953
Taylor’s 1953 (current 1970)
Dresden 1954
The Venice Room, Monterey Park 1955
Casa Bianca Pizza, Eagle Rock 1955
The Magic Lamp 1955
La Palma Chicken Pie Shop, Anaheim 1955
Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks 1956
Safari Room, Mission Hills 1957
Norm’s Restaurant, West Hollywood 1957
Pann’s 1958
Dal Rae, Pico Rivera 1958
Rae’s Coffee Shop, Santa Monica 1958
Chez Jay, Santa Monica 1958
Titos Tacos, Culver City 1959
Ports ‘O Call, San Pedro 1961
Viva Cantina, Burbank 1962
Dear John’s, Culver City 1962
El Cid 1963
Pie ‘n Burger, Pasadena 1963
Dan Tana’s, West Hollywood 1964
Tony Bella Vista Restaurant, Burbank 1965
The Steak Corral, Whittier 1965
The Prospector, Long Beach 1965
El Chavo 1965
Clearman’s Northwoods Inn, San Gabriel 1966
La Dolce Vita, Beverly Hills 1966
Clearman’s Northwoods Inn, Covina 1967
Brent’s Deli, Northridge 1967
Casa Escobar, Santa Monica 1967
Dinah’s Chicken, Glendale 1967
Don Cuco, Toluca Lake 1969
Pinocchio Italian Restaurant, Burbank 1971
Oomasa, Little Tokyo 1972
The Prince  1991 (in the French Windsor, 1949)